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Daydream Believer

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Everybody’s got dreams.

Some people have dreams that take them when they’re children, dreams of what their life could be, should be, glorious dreams that make you wake up with a smile on your face.

Some people get to live those dreams.

Others…don’t.

It’s not that Len doesn’t like being a structural engineer! As jobs go, it’s incredibly fulfilling, though he still wistfully wonders what would’ve happened if he’d taken accounting instead like he’d originally wanted. He’s got a masterful hand for design and a way of thinking that lets him visualize his buildings in perfect 3D in his head. Hell, even his hobby – studying the blueprints of buildings throughout the city to analyze them for security weaknesses and figure out how he could do it better – is work-related, so clearly, he enjoys what he does.

It’s just, you know.

It’s not what he dreamed of as a kid.

Of course, when Len was a kid, he dreamed of becoming a comics book style supervillain.

It’s not exactly a real job: you don’t see it on the quizzes suggesting what college major might be right for you, or job hunting on the Internet, or well, anywhere, really. It’s just the dreams a of a child.

Len doesn’t regret taking on the loans he did so that he could keep Lisa in his care, showing that – although young – he was a college student on the Right Track instead of a corrupt cop with a penchant for mob-related (and unsuccessful) theft or a junkie who only sometimes remembers that Lisa’s her daughter. He’s paid off those loans and he’s put Lisa into college and he’s, you know, doing okay. Got a good job, nice apartment, the works. He’s content. Maybe not happy, but content.

He still wishes he lived in a superhero universe, but hey, what can you do.

He figures that’s the end of it – keep going the way he is; now that he’s made partner at his firm and can do whatever the fuck he wants time-wise as long as the job gets done, he can presumably devote some time to finding a nice girlfriend or boyfriend or non-binaryfriend like Lisa keeps hinting at – and it would be, except for the Particle Accelerator explosion.

He’s working late that night, sees the flash of light outside his window, sees the news stories in the weeks that follow. A few months later, the first weird incident occurs. A little later, another.

The online community proposes that these incidents are actually caused by people – people who have been granted special powers by the Particle Accelerator explosion, like comic-book gamma rays except that they didn’t actually kill you and they did actually give you superpowers. These people are dubbed ‘metahumans’.

Len thinks it’s so cool.

He didn’t get any superpowers, of course – his life is not anywhere near that awesome – but he immediately runs to that great information consolidator, the Internet, to find out more. A few months in, he's joined a chat group with the various Internet self-proclaimed experts on the subject of metahumans: Patty (taking police academy lessons so she can save up money for an eventual career as a CSI, whose Instagram pics of suspected metahuman sites are second to none), Kadabra (works in Mercury Labs, does freelance scientific analysis of various incidents, also weirdly obsessed with stage magic for some reason), Axel (high schooler with an attitude problem, but lots of free time to run errands for the rest of them), and, of course, Iris (metahuman blogger extraordinaire, always first on the scene – he thinks she works as a barista, but her dad’s a cop and she has smuggled out crime scene descriptions so even beyond her in-person investigation, she’s a glorious source of news-news-news. He keeps telling her to apply to be a journalist somewhere.)

It’s just a hobby, though.

Well, at first.

When the Streak appears, it’s – it’s not just a hobby anymore.

We’ve got a superhero!!! he texts the group, along with a picture stolen (hacked) from a speed camera. It shows definitively that the bolt of lightning is – as they suspected – a metahuman, not a force of nature.

I KNOW OMG, Iris responds immediately.

I haaaaate police academy, Patty sends. I want to be OUT THERE already!!! with the METAS!!!

Just skip, like I do, Axel texts.

You skip one more day and I will cut you into pieces in my lab, brat, Kadabra replies.

Seconded, Len sends. Structural engineer – I know where to bury body parts.

WTF, both of you, Axel says. And they say teenagers are morbid.

You more than most LOL, Patty sends.

What if he’s a danger?? Kadabra sends, ignoring the part of the chat that rapidly devolves into rude emojis going back and forth.

He’s been doing good work, Iris objects. Stopping bad guys.

We don’t know if they’re bad guys.

Uh, they’re trying to KILL PEOPLE; they’re bad guys.

I’m just saying, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with a superpowered metahuman deciding he can take justice into his own hands, Kadabra writes.

Kind of the definition of a superhero, Len notes.

Some of the people the Streak has stopped have disappeared, Patty says. Gotta say, it’s a little worrying.

For some reason, that's what twigs the idea in his mind.

That old childhood dream.

Len stares at the chat, his friends going on and discussing the pros and cons of vigilantism, especially when superpowers are involved. Discussion of how balance works – whether the superhero is the response to the metahuman threat, or whether the superhero will act as a lightning rod to draw in more crazies – discussions of who watches the watchmen –

Guys, he texts the group. I think I’m going to become a supervillain.

OMG, Patty texts. Really???

Dead serious. That way I can keep the superhero on his toes & make sure he’s not murdering people at random, plus if any new bad guys show up, I’ll be able to get the first scoop.

I am so in, Iris texts. You have to tell us EVERYTHING.

You get me photos, I will give you my soul, Patty says.

I can help with lab analysis, Kadabra texts.

Oh, god, yes, me too!!! Patty throws in. Team Supervillain is definitely on as of right now!

We need a better name than that, Axel puts in. And I don’t know if I can do anything –

Stay in school and keep an eye on the rumors, Len says. I don’t want to get, like, a dumb name or anything.

But ur not a meta, Axel replies. The streak will kick ur ass.

I’ll figure something out :)

Len clicks out of the chat.

Hey, you know what they say about dreams. Shoot for the moon; you might land among the stars.

Not his fault his dream’s a little unorthodox.

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The first heist is easy enough to plan. A couple of drunks from the bad side of town, a handful of badly guarded diamonds, a really interesting use of liquid nitrogen, and suddenly everyone else in the slum part of downtown is convinced that he’s some super-thief from out of town despite his fairly heavy Central City accent.

He pays the guys out of his bank account – it’s amazing how little they’ll accept on the grounds that fencing diamonds is hard – and mails the diamonds back to the owners with some suggestions on how to improve security.

He’s not really expecting to get mail in return asking if he’d be interested in seeing if he can crack the security around the Kahndaq Dynasty Diamond, because they’re bringing in a very good fake – it is Central City, they’re not stupid – and they’d really like to know before they take the real Diamond on tour, but hey, it’s as good an excuse as any.

He gets a crew together.

And then the Streak comes.

OMG OMG OMG, Patty texts. Did he touch you???

He punched me, Len texts back, amused as ever by Patty’s enthusiasm.

HOW ARE YOU NOT DEAD, Kadabra writes. SPEED = FORCE; SPEEDSTER PUNCH = DEAD LEN!!!

Maybe Len has no mass, Axel writes, clearly sitting in his science class at school.

It’s my lack of gravity that does it, Len writes back immediately, and grins when everyone sends him little dagger emojis.

He goes searching for something that’ll help him stop a speedster. He’d thought liquid nitrogen would be the answer – speed and cold, after all – but if he can’t even see the Streak, he’ll never be able to use it in a controlled manner, and he’s got to be cautious about these things.

Luckily, with his name, his family history, he can walk into the worst bar in Central and everyone will go ah, yes, Snart – he’s one of us.

The squirrelly man who sells goods from STAR Labs is a godsend.

(One who Patty proceeds to bag as her very first police arrest on the force, thanks to the evidence Len sent her; she’s very pleased.)

Len’s a little worried about whoever bought the matching heat gun before he could get there, but whatever.

He’s got a Streak to fight and a diamond to steal.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

CAPTAIN COLD, Iris texts gleefully. CAPTAIN FUCKING COLD!

I am the COOLEST supervillain, Len replies, equally gleeful.

Fuck you and the puns you came in on, Axel texts.

Just chill, Axel, Len sends.

I hate you.

No need to be so cold.

HATE.

Guys, I think Axel’s freezing me out. What do I do?

FLAMES ON THE SIDE OF MY FACE!!!

Oh, he’s breaking out the Clue references, Iris types. Now we’re really in trouble.

Did you get the diamond? Kadabra asks.

Yeah, I’ve got it. Gonna send it back, of course, but right now it’s a great paperweight. Beautiful piece of ice.

Fuck you so bad, Axel writes. How are you simultaneously this awesome and this dorky?

Says the high schooler in the metahuman conspiracy chatroom, Len types. We wouldn’t be here if we weren’t dorks.

Still, well done, Iris writes. Icing the train was a work of genius. Very supervillain.

I’m still not sure how the Streak managed to turn what would have otherwise been a relatively minor slippage disturbance on the tracks into a fully-fledged train wreck, but whatever, Len replies. At least he also got everyone out.

And the awful night train is gone and the city finally has an excuse to replace it, Patty says happily. She’d had to ride that train for a while. They’ve already gotten approval from their insurance people; they’re so crazy happy right now. You’re everyone’s favorite supervillain.

Len smiles. He’s got the best team.

I want to know everything, Iris says. Not just what you gave me to put on the blog.

I’ve got a lead on who the Streak is, he tells her smugly. And he does, too – the faces of the Streak’s accomplices were unmasked, just right out there like they’re asking to be looked up online. And where you find accomplices, you find the mastermind – or, well, the hero.

Coffee. Tomorrow, Jitters, noon. OR DIE, she writes back immediately.

Oooh, RL meet-up! I’ll be there, Patty writes.

Bah, work; no way I’ll make it, but you’d better catch me up later, Kadabra writes. Axel – don’t even think about it.

Yeah, yeah. No worries. Tomorrow’s chemistry; I’m not skipping it.

Awww, our budding little chemical engineer, Patty coos.

With my sister in mechanical engineering, I think we’ve got the whole set, Len adds.

GOTTA CATCH ‘EM ALL, Patty writes.

So, CAPTAIN COLD, what’s next? Iris asks.

Len just smiles.

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Being a supervillain is basically better than anything Len could have possibly imagined.

He’s Captain Cold, now; people call him Cold instead of Snart, the bartender puts on Cold as Ice every time he comes to the bar – he has a theme song! – and he has an action figure.

People are still figuring out the whole Streak/Flash thing, since they can’t see him, but Captain Cold, they’re pretty damn sure is a villain.

Really, all he needs is an excuse to get the Flash to come and fight him one-on-one, and everything will be perfect. But he knows better than to just go out with the cold gun, flash it around – hah! – and hope everything will work out fine.

Kidnap one of the Flash’s teammates, Iris suggests. She’s got a rather wicked streak to her.

Are you sure you don’t want to be a supervillain, too? he asks.

Let me think of a theme first, she says. Right now I’m enjoying being the Flash’s favorite reporter.

I am rather curious as to why he chose you, Patty says. No offense, you’re great, but there’s a whole city of reporters with way more publicity than your blog gets.

I’m pretty sure he works with my dad sometimes, Iris says. Dad has been REALLY squirrelly about the whole metahuman/Flash thing. He’s even convinced my otherwise awesome foster-bro to try to talk me out of writing about the Flash because it’s ~~dangerous~~

Let me guess, Patty says. It’s OK for them because they’re guys, but you’re a delicate flower that needs to be protected.

Iris is the opposite of a delicate flower, Len writes. Iris will raze this city in her wake if she feels like it.

Awww, Len, you say the nicest things, Iris says. Still not sold on becoming part of your supervillain club. Which, FYI, you still need to name.

Villains United? Kadabra suggests.

Legion of Doom? Axel sends.

No, Len says. Relax, it’ll come to me. Besides, I don’t see any of you guys working out your supervillain identities.

I’ve got something planned, Axel writes.

Not if it interferes with school you don’t, Kadabra writes.

Ugh, FINE.

I’d join up in a heartbeat except for how the cop thing is currently paying my bills, Patty writes. Also, can we, like, murder Mark Mardon?

First we need to FIND Mark Mardon, and also pls keep all discussions of murder offline, Len writes.

Wasn’t it Clyde that killed your dad? Iris asks.

Same difference.

Not really…

I don’t want to talk about it.

Anyway, I’m still looking for the edge I need for the next match with the Flash, Len writes before the argument gets any more serious. Though I think the suggestion of kidnapping one of his teammates is a good one.

<3 u, Iris texts. Go for the girl; superheroes are so UGH about that.

You’re just sore about your dad + bro, Len texts back with a smile.

Hell yes I’m salty AF about it, she replies.

Len rolls his eyes and mildly hopes that Iris' family figures out that no one puts Iris West in the corner before she does end up going supervillain on them.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The few months after his first encounter with the Flash are spent gathering intel and – almost entirely by accident – creating a legend.

Everyone seems to assume that a supervillain has to have some sort of backstory, and Len’s sadly all-too-public family history – corrupt, abusive cop turned mob thief – has led to some seriously absurd speculation about him being a high-end diamond thief (due to the contract he now has with four of the diamond importers in town to test their security, which he’s been doing quite well – he can afford to pay the crew out of the advance proceeds, so even his savings aren’t taking a hit anymore) who is internationally wanted but who has connections with the criminal underground so deep that he’s managed to erase all of his criminal record.

Len laughs for, like, an hour when Axel tells him about it.

No one’s ever confronted him about it, or even mentioned it, so it’s not like there’s anything Len can do about it. He has no intention of lying about anything, but seriously, no one ever asks him anything. He just goes places, people are super into him, and then, after he fails to do anything spectacular, they forget about him and start talking.

Which is how he ends up drinking in a bar, listening to everyone chat around him, gathering what he needs to know. He’s never kidnapped anyone before; he’s gotta do his research.

And that’s when someone walks up to him and pokes him in the shoulder.

Len turns.

There’s a guy there – big guy, broad shoulders, shaved head, shiny patches of scarred skin starting around his neckline and crawling down his forearms, peeking out from under his loose grey button-down shirt.

“You Captain Cold?” the guy asks.

He’s got one of those voices that makes your toes curl.

Len’s, at least.

“You’re really hot,” Len’s traitorous mouth proceed to say, totally without his consent.

The guy blinks, obviously taken aback, but Len’s committed now, so he fixes on his best smirk and leans forward. “How can I help you?”

“You know, I’d heard you were a lot more chill than you are,” the guy says.

“Maybe you warm me up,” Len shoots back.

“Can’t be that icy if that’s all it takes to get you hot,” the guy replies, his lips spreading into a grin.

“What can I say? You were so hot, you stopped me cold,” Len says, batting his eyelashes innocently.

“Guess I’m getting warmer by the minute with the puns.”

“What can I say?” Len says. “I know what lights my fire –”

The guy barks a laugh. “Mick Rory,” he says, face flushed with pleasure. “Arsonist. Nice to meet you.”

“Leonard Snart,” Len replies. “Supervillain.”

“Mind if I sit?”

“Please do,” Len says, eyes dropping to review the man’s very shapely figure and stopping cold (hah!) at the familiar-looking style of gun strapped into the man’s thigh. “I think you and me have lots to talk about.”

Mick follows Len’s gaze. “Yeah,” he says, and grins. “I think we do.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Glory glory glory hallelujah, Iris texts. Leonard Snart, you are the BEST. Central City has an official superhero at LAST!

The Flash, in person, Patty sends, attaching a few snapshots she snagged during the big confrontation.

Head to toe leather, really? Kadabra snipes. Is he a superhero or an escapee from a fetish convention?

If that was the case, it’d be PVC, not leather, Iris says.

TMI, Iris, he replies.

I’m a writer, Iris sends back. I know many, many things. Some stranger than others. I can send pics of some of those stranger things – tell me, how familiar are you with certain internet subcultures?

I yield the field, declare defeat, surrender unconditionally, etc., Kadabra replies. I don’t even know which one you’re thinking of, and I don’t WANT to know.

More importantly, why does he go with the full cowl? Axel sends. A domino mask is x100 cooler.

Let’s get back to how freaking AWESOME Len and his brand new buddy were out there, Iris sends. Did you get arrested after the big blow-out at the end?

I should have realized about crossing the streams, Kadabra sends apologetically. Sorry.

No worries, Len says.

At least there wasn’t a giant Stay Puft Man involved, Patty opines. Always a risk when you’re talking about crossing streams.

Len! Did! You! Get! Arrested?!?! Iris sends.

They made us do a walk of shame through the CCPD and then shoved us in a van headed for Iron Heights without processing us, Len reports. Totally illegal, btw, but whatever.

He’s a little steamed about that, actually; they didn’t even bother to check his fingerprints to see if he had a criminal record – he didn’t; hadn’t gotten so much as a driving ticket since he turned eighteen – and he’d consulted with Patty before he’d set up the fight. If the Flash showed up to fight him, literally all they’d be able to charge him with was being a public nuisance.

Well, and kidnapping, but for some reason he didn’t think Caitlin Snow would be making any statements to the police.

Reasons like “aiding and abetting a vigilante.”

But they hadn’t bothered – they’d looked at him and thought ‘Snart’, just like everyone else in his goddamn life, and coupled with Mick by his side, they’d tossed them straight into the prison van and figured they’d deal with them later.

Lisa had paid off the van drivers in advance, so the ensuing break-out was both spectacular and totally victim-less. And since the police hadn’t even charged him with anything, he can’t even be charged with escaping police custody.

“You texting your friends again?” Mick rumbles from next to him in the bed.

Len turns and grins at him. Sleepy and satisfied is a good look for Mick. Then again, Len hasn’t really found a look that isn’t good on him. “They’re good people,” he protests mildly.

“You like talking to ‘em, you talk to ‘em,” Mick says agreeably. “Gotta keep an eye on your crew.”

The way his thumb caresses Len’s hips indicates that he’s willing to make an effort to distract from it.

“They’re complimenting us on our excellent supervillain style,” Len tells Mick. “Let me enjoy my adoring public.”

“I’ll give you adoring,” Mick growls.

Len has just enough time to type BRB and toss the phone onto the bedside table.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“I’m going to murder him,” Iris announces, walking straight into their apartment and throwing her hands in the air.

“I’m in,” Lisa puts in, grinning at her newly found best friend.

(Lisa had thought he was insane for the supervillain thing, then she’d met Iris and suddenly everything was a-okay in Lisa-land. Len’s pretty sure she’s angling for a threesome invite, and he’s pretty sure she’s going to get one, too, judging by the way Iris eyes her in return.)

“Which him?” Len asks mildly. “Speaking as a ‘him’, I’d prefer to know what I’m signing up for.”

Mick grunts from where he’s eating a bowl of cereal.

He’s adjusted quite quickly to random people walking in and yelling strange things, though he does tell Len he thinks it’s odd that Len’s chosen a safehouse in a fairly nice apartment complex where the neighbors sometimes knock to ask for a cup of sugar and to fist-bump him on his excellent supervillainy.

Len explained that he owns the apartment.

Mick was impressed.

“Eddie,” Iris says. “He’s in on the Flash thing now! And he’s refusing to tell me!”

“You haven’t told him that you know who the Flash is?” Len asks.

Iris snarls. “He’s my foster brother,” she says, her dramatics not hiding the fact that she’s actually pissed off about it. “And – I thought – my best friend. He should tell me these things. He’s told my dad, he’s told my boyfriend, he’s told random strangers that he only met after his coma –”

“Nine months in a coma after being struck by lightning, wakes up in better physical shape than before, suddenly hanging out with the Flash’s accomplices,” Lisa ticks off on her fingers.

“Add the fact that he obviously talks about it right before I come in through the door then changes the subject abruptly despite the fact that I totally heard him,” Iris says. “And sometimes, when he thinks I’m not looking – I’m talking that I’m still in the room, just not looking his way –he’ll superspeed something. Like I won’t notice that the desk is suddenly clean or the dishes are all washed!”

“Isn’t his speed accompanied by lightning?” Mick asks.

“It is!” she wails. “That’s what makes it so stupid – does he really think I don’t see the light out of the corner of my eyes? Humans are born predators! We notice movement before we notice anything else, including variation in tone and texture and color! I can’t tell if he thinks I’m stupid or what!”

“He probably just thinks he’s very good,” Len puts in. “And he isn’t.”

“He’s a boy in his early twenties,” Lisa drawls. “They all think they’re much better than they are.”

Len sighs, long-suffering, as Iris and Mick laugh at his wrinkled nose. Just because he was happy that Lisa had an active and satisfying sex life didn’t mean he wanted to hear the details, really.

“Anyway, I have a plan to get you your guns back,” she says briskly.

“I’m listening,” Len says, smiling at how Mick perks up. Mick loves his gun: his pyromania is totally tickled pink (red?) by it.

“Second verse,” Iris says, “same as the first. But this time we kidnap a bit of extra incentive.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Len drops Cisco and Dante off at STAR Labs, no harm done to either of them.

“That was amazing,” Mick purrs.

“I didn’t do anything,” Len says, smiling. “It was Iris’ idea, bringing the brother in; and Lisa was able to grab Cisco, no problem.”

Though she really needed to stop collecting would-be lovers or she’ll end up in an orgy.

“The way you threatened him with frostbite was beautiful,” Mick says firmly. “I wouldn’t have thought to go after his fingers.”

“Piano player,” Len says, smirking. “You can always tell.”

“So we going to hit that truck?”

“Yep,” Len says, utterly satisfied. He can’t believe they’re so foolish as to send another diamond truck on the same route – god, he’s talked to them about this! He’ll have to be extra stern in his next letter. It helps that Mick isn’t in this for the cash – as long as there is cash, he doesn’t care if it comes from their thieving or if it just appears on the table.

Len’s bank account is rich and full. Mick’s barely making a dent.

(Len’s designing a bank for work at the moment, which honestly he could do in his sleep. It’s fun to split his time between blueprints for heists and blueprints for work. Also, the irony makes him smile.)

“You sure the Flash’ll let us hit it?” Mick asks doubtfully.

“Trust me,” Len says. “He’ll want to confront me about kidnapping his friend; he’ll forget that you two are perfectly capable of getting the truck all on your own.”

Sure enough, Len finds himself in the woods somewhere outside of Central.

“Maybe I’ll speed you off to my secret prison where you can’t hurt anyone,” the Flash says cockily.

“And then I won’t be around to stop my newsfeed from releasing your identity the world,” Len drawls in return. Honestly, did the Flash not think that he’s thought of this? That was like, contingency number one.

Besides, if Barry Allen really does go and lock him into STAR Labs, Iris will just break him out.

They end up bargaining: no attacks on the Flash’s friends and family (easily agreed) and no killing (even easier) in return for the Flash letting Len run free as his supervillain.

It all went even better than he thought.

The Flash ditches him, a crackle of lightning all he leaves behind.

The Rogues, he texts the group.

What? Iris replies.

Villain group name, he says. The Rogues.

I LOVE IT, Patty sends.

Okay, that’s pretty cool, Axel concedes. Not too dorky.

If you assholes would stop vetoing my supervillain ideas, I’d join up in a minute, Kadabra promises.

Stop having stupid stage magician themed ideas, then, Iris replies. This isn’t the 90s, okay? Only serious supervillains need apply.

There was a woman who murdered people with electric bees literally last week, Len points out.

And she’s not invited into the club, Iris shoots back.

Point, Len concedes.

I’m recruiting Hartley Rathaway, once I track him down, Patty says. Sonic gloves are great! Plus, deaf supervillain – disability representation for the win!

We got the truck, Mick sends. He’s been a little more hesitant to join the texting group, but once he was assured that the chatroom was as private as current internet hacking skills could manage and everyone was overwhelmingly nice to him, he’d slowly started warming up to them.

Pun intended, of course.

Great! Len replies encouragingly. He really wants Mick to be friends with everyone; it's important to him that everyone is happy and comfortable with each other.

Then he looks around.

Speaking of comfortable...

Could you guys send me a pickup? I’ll turn on the GPS tracker on my phone so you can find me…

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Iris spends a lot of time curled up in Len’s apartment eating ice cream after the pseudo-black hole incident. She’s pissed off at Barry for nearly screwing everything up. She’s pissed off at Eddie for very nearly committing suicide. She’s pissed off at her dad for conspiring to keep her in the dark about the Flash stuff for months.

Honestly, at this point, Len’s crew and Firestorm – Stein and Ronnie both – may be the only people she’s talking to.

Len’s Rogues are growing nicely, though. Mick’s there, of course, as Heatwave, and Lisa under her new alias as the Golden Glider. Hartley joined up happily enough and is going under the name Pied Piper – he’s currently working on some sort of sonic flute. Shanwa, surprisingly enough, actually likes the name Peek-a-Boo, and is as thick as thieves with Lisa and Iris and Patty. Axel found his calling as the Trickster – Kadabra yelled at him for three hours about doing anything with the old Trickster, ever again, and Axel had folded like a bad poker hand, especially after they’d explained exactly how badly he’d been played – and now he’s using and abusing his chemistry genius.

He’s still going to school and getting good grades, though. He swears after his last stunt, Kadabra abruptly appears and looms over his shoulder any time he even thinks of skipping.

Of course, Axel also claims that Kadabra has started cooking up actual magic in that lab of his.

Kids.

“I just hate all of them,” Iris says sulkily.

“I feel you,” Len says.

Admittedly, he’s only half paying attention. His bank design is getting to the crazy portion; he needs to devote a lot of attention or the finicky details won't iron out right.

“I think I want to be a supervillain, too,” she says.

“You’re not really cut out for it,” Mick says, putting a hand on her shoulder.

“I could be,” Iris says stubbornly.

“You’ve barely ever broken a law in your life,” Mick points out. “Never been arrested, never gone to jail, never got scarred up like the rest of us. You’re not like me and Len. Just leave it be.”

“I’ll think about it,” she says grumpily.

“You don’t even have a good theme yet,” he says soothingly, wrapping a blanket around her shoulders.

“Fine, fine. That one’s actually a good point,” Iris says, snuggling into the blanket.

Len smiles distractedly at Mick being adorably fuzzy. He’ll have to make up the last few weeks up to Mick somehow – maybe take him out for a nice burn on one of the condemned properties that Len bid for the destruction contracts for weeks ago, right after he first met Mick and learned about his pyromania.

He doesn’t think about what Mick said.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Oh god,” Len says.

“You killed him,” Barry says.

“Oh god,” Len says.

“Lisa was safe! You didn’t have to!”

Oh god.”

“Um,” Barry says. “You’re – kind of freaking out?”

“He’s dead!”

“…yes?” Barry says, blinking. “Was that not the point?”

“Yes, but – but – oh my god!”

“I’m – okay, you’re seriously freaking out here. Is it because he’s your dad?”

It’s because he’s dead!

“…is there anything I can do to make you freak out less?” Barry asks helplessly. “Because you’re starting to freak me out.”

“Lisa,” Len says weakly. “I need Lisa. And Mick. Oh god.”

“Right,” Barry says, and suddenly everything is a blur.

Lisa is on her feet at the sight of them, dropping the towel she was holding to her mildly bloody neck. “What did you do to him?!” she shouts.

“Nothing!” Barry yelps. “Nothing! I swear! He shot your dad and then he started flipping out!”

“Go get Mick! And Iris! Now!” Lisa orders, whipping out her phone and texting.

Barry’s gone before she finishes talking.

Len is on the floor. He doesn’t remember sitting down.

“Lenny? Lenny, baby, it’s okay,” she says, crouching down next to him. “Lenny – Lenny, baby, big bro, it’s okay – look at me – you’re having a panic attack –”

Len’s ears are ringing and everything seems very far away. He can’t get his father’s face out of his mind.

“I got Mick!” Barry announces, reappearing with the man. “And Iris! Wait. Why did I go get Iris?”

Iris rushes forward. “Got your text,” she says. “Oh, Len!”

Mick kneels down and wraps his arms around Len. It helps with the shaking.

“He’s dead,” he tells Mick stupidly. “He’s dead.”

“Who’s dead?” Mick asks.

“Our dad,” Lisa says. “He put a bomb in my neck and made Lenny run jobs for him.”

“Shit,” Mick says, looking guilty. “I shoulda known something was up when you said you needed some time to yourself.”

“I didn’t want you involved,” Len says through numb lips. “He’s – he’s bad, Mick. He’s really bad.”

“And now he’s gone for good,” Lisa says. She sounds satisfied.

Len groans.

“…which I will never mention again, Lenny, I’m so sorry you had to do that!” she adds.

Iris is patting his shoulder. “It’s okay,” she says. “It’s okay.”

“Iris!” Barry yelps. “Since when do you know Captain Cold?”

“I’m part of his Rogues, duh,” she replies. “Which maybe I wouldn’t have been, if someone had told me that they were the fucking Flash instead of keeping me in the dark and lying to my face for a year.”

Barry winces.

They’re still not talking about it.

“Wait,” Cisco says. “You’re a supervillain?”

“I’m more of a behind the scenes organizer,” Iris sniffs. “I haven’t thought of a theme yet. Anyway, can we focus on Len now?”

“He’s dead,” Len says dully. “I killed him.”

“Isn’t that kind of what you guys do?” Cisco asks.

“I’ve never killed anyone before in my life!” Len protests.

What?!” Barry yelps. “But – we made that deal about you not killing anyone –”

“Easy enough to promise,” Len says. “Didn’t plan to do it anyway.”

“You really never killed anybody?” Mick says, sounding mildly surprised. “Not even in prison?”

“He’s never been in prison,” Lisa says. “Well, not except as, like, a visitor.”

“What, really?” Mick says, blinking.

“How’d he manage that?” Caitlin asks, frowning. “Statistically, most expert criminals spend at least a little time in prison before they’ve perfected their technique –”

“He’s a supervillain, not a criminal,” Lisa says impatiently. “He’s never been to prison, he’s never been arrested – well, not properly – and the worst thing he’s ever gotten was a parking ticket for letting the time meter run out while he was visiting me in the hospital one time.”

“No way,” Cisco protests. “I saw the stories online – he’s got a record a mile long, only he deleted it all –”

“Those are just stories,” Iris says. “I helped spread some of them.”

Iris, you didn't,” Len says.

“Oh, good, he’s starting to come out of it.”

“You’re not a criminal?” Mick says slowly. “Not at all?”

“I wanted to be a supervillain,” Len says. He’s tired and his head hurts and he thinks he may have hurt Mick’s feelings somehow, even though he never lied about anything. He should have been more clear, he guesses. “Childhood dream. Had to put it aside to take care of Lisa. Then, when the Flash appeared…I figured it was time.”

“You steal diamonds all the time!” Cisco shouts.

“Yeah,” Len says. “And I send ‘em back after with comments on improving their security against metahuman and super-threats. I get paid an average of 50k per successful robbery, which is honestly more than I’d get fencing the diamonds on the black market.”

What,” Barry says.

“How do you afford that sweet apartment?” Mick demands. “And all the extra cash you always have?”

“Lenny’s partner in a mid-sized architectural design firm,” Lisa says proudly.

“I’m designing a bank right now,” Len offers, closing his eyes.

“You’re designing a bank?”

“I specialize in figuring out architectural design for high security needs,” Len says. “I basically spend all day trying to figure out how to break into places and then turning it around to figure out how to stop people from doing what I just did.”

“You’re in the house all day,” Mick says. He sounds upset. “You don’t, like, go into an office or anything.”

“I’m a partner,” Len says, leaning his head against the wall. “I took flex-time leave; I work from home now. Telecommuting. You see me skype with my employees sometimes.”

“Wait – the guys you’re always yelling about banks with are your employees?” Mick says.

“Imagine having Captain Cold as a boss,” Cisco says, marveling.

“You’re basically a normal person,” Barry says, sounding horrified.

“Yes, and he just had a very traumatic experience,” Iris says. “So stop badgering him.”

“He killed someone!”

“He killed his abusive father, who just put a bomb into his sister’s neck!” Iris shouts. “Maybe if you actually cared about your family, you’d pay some attention to that!”

“I do care!” Barry shouts back. “That’s why I lied!

“Because you don’t trust me!”

“No! Because I want to keep you safe! Damnit, Iris, I thought I was doing the right thing!”

“Well you weren’t! You were just being selfish, like you always are!”

Len pulls up his knees, feeling very small. He hates it when people yell.

He feels Mick’s arm wrap around him and he lets his head fall into Mick’s shoulder. “M’sorry I didn’t make it clear,” he mutters into Mick’s neck. “Shoulda said. Like Iris and Barry. But you only wanted a partner in crime, and I wanted you…”

“We’re still partners in crime,” Mick says. His voice is low and harsh as always, but it’s still the sweetest thing Len’s ever heard. “You’re still a supervillain, remember? Leader of the Rogues.”

“You don’t mind that I’m not a proper criminal?”

“You’re a proper criminal to me,” Mick assures him.

Lisa puts her fingers to her mouth and whistles a sharp, piercing whistle that deafens the entire room.

“You’re all being stupid!” she roars, making everyone take at least three steps back. “Iris, Barry was being a dumbass, but he meant well and he’s apologized. Get over it. Barry, all Iris wants is for you to say you’ve learned your lesson, you’re sorry, and that you’re never going to hide anything from her ever again.”

They blink.

Now.”

“I’m sorry, I’ve learned my lesson, I will hide nothing from you ever again,” Barry says quickly.

“Apology accepted and I’m sorry for what I said about you not caring about family,” Iris says, equally quickly. “I know that you care a lot and it was really uncalled for.”

“It’s fine, I understand why you were upset,” Barry says.

“Don’t try to get me to make up with my dad, though, I’m still pissed at him,” she warns.

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Barry says.

“You’re literally thinking of ways to do it right now.”

“Yes,” Barry says, nodding. “In the spirit of not hiding things from you: yes, yes I am.”

“Can we stop apologizing now or will you kill us?” Iris asks Lisa.

Lisa crosses her arm and surveys both of them. “Fine,” she says. “Acceptable. Also, while we’re at it, Cisco, we’re going out for dinner tomorrow. 8 PM. Wear something nice.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Cisco says. His eyes are shining. “Wait, if he’s a structural engineer, does that mean you’re really a mechanical engineer?”

“Yep,” she says.

Awesome,” he says.

“Hey, Flash,” Mick says. “Help me get Len home? I think he needs some peace and quiet, maybe some hot cocoa.”

“With mini-marshmallows?” Len asks plaintively.

“Of course,” Mick assures him. “Flash?”

“Uh, sure,” Barry says. “I’ll…do you have to be a supervillain?”

“I keep my Rogues obeying the rules we made,” Len points out. “I make sure nothing really gets stolen, or at least that no one gets hurt by it. If any new supervillain comes to town, they’ll probably come to try to recruit me first. My contacts on the police force help me turn in the really bad guys –”

“Who do we know who’s on the police force?” Mick asks.

“Patty.”

Patty?” Barry yelps. “My girlfriend?”

“Your what?!” Iris says, starting to grin.

“Well, I mean, I just asked her out yesterday…”

“Patty,” Mick says. “Patty. Instagram girl.”

“Yep.”

“The police really take all types,” Mick says. “Who’d you get arrested? Anyone I know?”

“The two assholes that were making fun of you in the bar.”

Mick’s lips twitch with amusement. “You mean the ones I beat up for doing it?”

“Doesn’t mean they should be doing it. Mental illness isn’t funny.”

Mick shakes his head and pulls Len close, running his fingers through his hair. Len sighs and lets his shoulder slump.

What a bad week.

“We’re not allowed to have weeks like this ever again,” he says, only half-awake at this point.

“Sure thing, Lenny,” Mick says. “Now go to sleep; I’ll yell at you tomorrow. First kill’s always the hardest, especially if it’s family. Took me ages to get over my family dying in a fire, and that was an accident.”

“You’re the best,” Len slurs.

“I beat up nice structural engineers who were abused as children and mentally ill people with tragic pasts,” Barry moans. “What sort of hero am I?”

“Barry, I know we’ve made up and all, but I have to say that your existential crisis is giving me life right now,” Iris says.

“Yeah, yeah – wait, what are you doing? Are you texting someone?”

“I’m live-blogging this for the Rogues. Obviously.”

“You’re what?!